Friday, November 11, 2011

What cosmic truth could your life reveal?

Hello all you wannabe memoirists. I just finished a great book on writing creative nonfiction: Storycraft by Jack Hart. The former Oregonian editor and narrative reporting coach covers the topic from a newspaper perspective, but the content applies not only to all creative narrative nonfiction but to many aspects of fiction writing as well. I recommend it to any author who wonders what "show don't tell" really means.

And I'll go even a step further: Storycraft is the perfect book for anyone seeking a better understanding of life. Jack writes, "The world delivers the facts, and nonfiction specialists have to make some sense of them," but all of us have the same longing when we encounter life's  inexplicable tragedies, foiled destinies, or even just worrisome little events we witness.

Every life is packed with scenes and stories, as much action as a rousing novel, but with all the boring routine intervening. When we ponder life's climactic moments, we find the context that links our  lives with humanity's common attributes. And just like an investigating reporter, we can use the techniques in Storycraft to wring meaning out of reality.

To paraphrase a point Jack makes, the ultimate payoff for Storycraft is when you can follow life's story from its specific unfolding to its underlying cosmic truth and then bring that new abstraction to bear on other specifics in your own and others' lives.
I wonder... what you think.

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